Apple's Artform: Graceful Technology Advances Without Retro Feelings

Today's tech-minded customers like to be part of advancing technology. It's fun and exciting. But if a company pushes too hard and in the wrong ways, without an understanding of customer psychology, relentless change can become the enemy. One sure sign of that is when people start to celebrate retro ways of thinking.

Ah, the good old days. Simplicity. Image credit: Shutterstock.

Everything old is new again. Whether it's the current retro fondness for vinyl records, paper magazines, old clothes or actually shopping in a real store, people seem to be reacting to the relentless pace of technology change. This headlong rush into the future has people responding in interesting ways. For example, a rare exception for Apple is that while iTunes and Apple Music can be a challenge to use, there's nothing simpler than putting a vinyl record on a turntable. (Not for me though.)

One sign of the impact of Internet commerce is that, this week, we learned that Amazon has been putting serious pressure on Walmart, and Walmart's projections for earnings aren't rosy. See: "How Amazon is eating Walmart's lunch." But, darn it, people do like to get out and shop. Talk to people. And sightsee. The trick, it seems, is to figure out how to recover a balance in favor of the brick and mortar stores by using an understanding of shopper psychology.

Here's a brief introduction to a longer research report from Business Insider that covers some of those essentials for shoppers. "Brick-and-mortar retailers are betting on these 5 in-store technologies to win back shoppers."

Image credit: Business Insider

And so, the trick to embracing customers isn't always about the latest and greatest technology via mail order. That's attractive for some small companies thanks to the low overhead. But the real story is about a company's relationship with the customer. And nowhere else is that more important than Apple's retail stores. They are a conduit to customer relationships that last and have value. Look at the chart above. Apple scores on all six factors. And when people feel happy and educated about the buying experience from a company that puts them first, they tend to embrace the new technologies.

Again, an always interesting contrast is Amazon.

For example, here are some interesting thoughts about "Amazon is killing the category it popularized, dedicated e-readers." The idea here is that killing a technology to make money in other areas just drives customers in the wrong psychological direction.

Ah, those contrary customers. They're so hard to figure out.


Next page: the tech news debris for the week of October 12. The tablet 2.0 era.

Page 2 - The Tech News Debris for the Week of October 12


iPad Pro. Image credit: Apple

There are product designs that we've become accustomed to, even though they would blow the mind of someone brought forward, in a time machine, from the 1960s. Our large screen Macs and nifty sleek iPhones are taken for granted, but we often forget how long it took to get to this point in our manufacturing sophistication. And so, for something to really excite us nowadays requires something special.

And I have one for you. Take a look at this curved iPhone that Apple has actually explored in its patent filings. This design concept—and video—will take your breath away. "This is what a curved ‘iPhone edge’ might actually look like." Plus, if it were rugged enough, we wouldn't have to bury it in a soft, lint-collecting case. I can't wait for an iPhone like this. How about you?

Here's an enduring example of how an expedient rush into competition with Apple can make some money and market share in the short term. However, it requires a really well thought out strategy combined with a fanatic devotion to customers to be in the game for the long haul. "Google-funded study reveals Android security is a total disaster."

If you've upgraded to OS X El Capitan and are having some problems with Apple's Mail app, here's a great guide from Jonny Evans at Computerworld. . "A quick guide to fixing El Capitan Mail problems." The article includes some very helpful links.

The big question this week seemed to be triggered by Microsoft's introduction of the Surface Book, namely, how well is Apple executing its two OS strategy of iOS and OS X that are different yet work together? The other question is whether we're entering a new phase of the tablet era, Tablet 2.0, if you will. Of note were these articles.

And yet, I have hunch that time and technology can change how a company thinks. For example, how would iOS be different if it were designed today to work on iPads with 360 times the GPU performance of the original iPad in 2010? One can only imagine the possibilities.

From Apple's 9 Sep 15 event. iPad GPU performamce increases since 2010.

Finally, if you've been enrolled in Apple's beta programs and are wresting with how to get to the production release of iOS or OS X, here's a great article by Glenn Fleishman. "Unenrolling from Apple's beta programs: back up or back out."


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed by a discussion of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.